Lives of the fellows

Ronald James Linden

b.3 April 1920 d.11 April 2010
MB ChB Leeds(1951) PhD(1958) DSc(1965) MRCP(1969) FRCP(1974)

Ron Linden was 90 years and 8 days old when he died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack on 11th April [2010]. Only a week before he had enjoyed his 90th birthday party with his three sons and their wives, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren present.

Ron was the epitome of rugged individualism and Yorkshire bluntness. He was born in Scriven, Knaresborough, the second son of a Master Grocer, Alfred Linden. He won a scholarship to Knaresborough Grammar School (of which he later became a Governor) and left there to study Medicine in 1939. However, he left in 1940 to join the Royal Navy and served throughout the war, culminating in being promoted to first lieutenant on T and U class submarines most notably on HMS Unseen, patrolling the Mediterranean whilst based in Malta (1943-1944).

Returning to the Medical School at Leeds in 1946 he graduated MB CHB in 1951 with honours, PhD in 1958 and was awarded the DSc in 1965. His lifelong commitment to his specialty was seen from his first appointment – as house officer in cardiology at Leeds General Infirmary and throughout his posts from demonstrator to professor. He sought to exploit the clinical applications and relevance of basic physiological sciences.

At the time of him joining Leeds Medical School, it already had a reputation for cardiovascular work in physiology, medicine and surgery and he was soon involved in this exciting and developing field. After his PhD he had a stimulating year as a research fellow at the National Heart Institute in Washington DC, teaming up with several of the best American workers on the heart. This year was to prove seminal. On his return to Leeds, Ron set out to work to create something similar at Leeds. The Cardiovascular Unit was formed, within the Department of Physiology, which combined responsibilities for clinical cardiac investigations with fundamental ‘blue skies’ research of the highest quality. In 1966 he was appointed to a Personal Chair and in 1977 to the headship of a separate Department of Cardiovascular Studies, his chair being endowed by the British Heart Foundation, one of the first to be endowed by the Foundation.

Loyal to his colleagues, and commanding loyalty in return, he founded a dynasty of Leeds-trained cardiovascular physiologists who have spread far and wide. The reputation of his department as a centre of excellence was due to his persistence in demanding high standards of performance not only from himself but also from his collaborators. He enthused his departmental staff by his style of work. The duration of the meticulously monitored experiments done in his laboratories was legendary, even among students.

He served on the editorial boards of several prestigious journals and was a member or chairman of many personnel research committees advisory to government departments. He rendered valuable service to a number of high powered UK committees, notably the University Grants Committee, the British Heart Foundation and the Ministry of Defence.

Following retirement in 1985, he took up two six month appointments at the newly formed medical school of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and also continued research collaboration with Gianni Losano at the University of Turin. He was awarded an honorary degree in Medicine and Surgery by the University of Turin in 1993.

Ron was a true Yorkshire man. He played cricket for Leeds University in his early years at Leeds and supported Yorkshire cricket, Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos. He was an amateur photographer, taking pictures mostly of his family and was very proud that he once won a prize for a photograph of his eldest granddaughter and her puppy awarded by the magazine Amateur Photographer. He was an enthusiastic gardener and took particular pleasure in growing an immaculate lawn, camellias, roses and vegetables.

Ron Linden married Isobel Hendry in 1944 when stationed in Campbeltown, on the west coast of Scotland. They had only known each other for three weeks when they got married. Isobel died in 2007. They had three sons.

Roger Linden

[Reproduced, with permission, from Physiology News 79]

(Volume XII, page web)

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